Couch therapy works wonders

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The Independent Online
JIn the Eighties, the message to the unemployed was "on yer bike". In the Nineties, it could become "on the couch".

Researchers have found that the best way for the out-of-work to get a job is to get a shrink. A study of 289 unemployed people found those who had group psychotherapy were three times more likely to find work than those who had more conventional help.

All those in the study were white-collar workers who had previously held jobs in management, sales or administration and had been out of work for two years. They were divided into two groups which were either given help developing social and business contacts or enrolled in a programme of cognitive behaviour therapy.

Cognitive behaviour therapy is a widely used psychotherapeutic technique based on the theory that how we think about the world affects mood. A half-filled glass may be described, optimistically, as half full or, pessimistically, as half empty.The aim of the therapy is to make people aware of their self-defeatism and school them in more positive ways of thinking.

In the study by Dr Judith Proudfoot and colleagues at London University, published in the Lancet, a third of those who had cognitive therapy found full-time jobs within four months compared with 13 per cent of those who had social support. If part-time work is included, almost half of the therapy group found work compared with 28 per cent of the remainder.

Commenting on the results, Professor Chris McManus, a psychiatrist at St Mary's Hospital, London, says they present a "remarkable success for cognitive behaviour therapy".